More than a decade ago I filled out my first voter registration card and provided the information required so I could complete jury duty. Unlike most people, I was excited for both opportunities.
I’ve patiently waited 16 years for the letter to arrive in the mail that informed me it was time to serve on a jury, but that letter never came. My wife received her letter to serve on a jury and if I remember right, she was eventually called to voir dire but was released before the trial. My mother has served on several juries during that 16 year timeframe as has my father.
In fact, my father served on a jury about two months ago and he called to tell me all about it. Although he didn’t want to serve on a jury, he was just as fascinated with the experience as I would have been.
My interest in serving on a jury doesn’t come from some noble aspiration to complete my civil service. I don’t want to serve on a jury so I can show my kids the importance of doing their civic duty either. Although I will teach my kids about the importance of civic duty, my interest in service on a jury is all about entertainment for me. I get excited about the opportunity to watch lawyers question witnesses and to hear the judge give his/her rulings on objections. I like to hear the story unfold through the witnesses that are called by the attorneys. I love going to the courthouse periodically just to watch a portion of a trial. Watching a trial unfold has always been of interest to most Americans and it explains why there are so many bad TV shows about lawyers. Why settle for the bad TV shows when I can experience the real thing right there in the courthouse as a member of a jury.
During that 16 year period as I waited for my first jury duty notice, I went off to law school, took the bar exam, and began practicing as an attorney in Indiana. I figured with that kind of background I had lost my opportunity to serve on a jury forever. It’s not just because I’m an attorney either. It’s also because I live and practice in a small town on the outskirts of Indianapolis. I occasionally venture into Indianapolis for cases, but most of my cases are right here in this small county where I reside and where I am registered to vote. Needless to say, any chance I have of being selected to serve on a jury in this county is pretty slim.
After my 16 year wait I finally got my first jury duty notice in the mail. Most people would have seen the court’s address on the envelope and let out an audible groan. Not me, I saw the court’s address and a big smile went across my face as I realized what the letter was for.
It’s my turn to serve on a jury. I haven’t officially been selected for any specific trial yet, but my opportunity should come in the next few months. What the letter means is that I could be called into the court for a trial and the attorneys on the case will have the opportunity to conduct voir dire. If the attorneys are local attorneys I’ll likely be dismissed, but that won’t stop me from thinking and hoping that I at least have a chance to serve as a juror.
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